One of my most prized possessions is my mother's handwritten recipe for my father's popular rum cake. It dates back more than 35 years. It was getting a bit stained and crumpled, so I laminated it along with a number of other family recipes.

My father would make this cake every Christmas, and on many other occasions throughout the year. It was a favorite for family and guests. I too have made this cake many times over the years and I've had more requests for this recipe than almost any other.

You'll note that my mother included a couple warnings. Please pay attention to them carefully if you want this cake to come out right!

First, do not use Duncan Hines cake mix. For some reason, it always falls. Betty Crocker and Pillsbury work great.

Second, when you are making the syrup, bring it to a boil and boil for exactly two minutes, then pour it over the baked cake. Timing is very important or the syrup will be too thick to penetrate the cake. What I normally do is while the cake is baking I add all the syrup ingredients to a small saucepan. When there is about 10 minutes left to baking the cake, I begin to heat the syrup ingredients by turning the burner on medium low and gently stirring the syrup. With about 5 minutes left, I increase to heat to medium high and keep a very close eye on the syrup. It will boil over if you aren't careful. It should start to boil when there are 2 or 3 minutes left to bake the cake. When the buzzer goes off, take the cake out of the oven and slowly pour the syrup over the top. As my mother suggests, you may want to put newspaper underneath the pan because it may spatter a bit.

Third, once you pour the syrup on the cake, let is sit for exactly 30 minutes. If you flip it too soon, the syrup will not adequately soak into the cake. If you let it sit much longer than 30 minutes the cake will stick to the pan when you try to flip it onto a plate. Just before I flip the cake, I run a knife around the sides of the pan then I lay a hotpad on the counter and gently tap and rotate the bottom of the cake pan on the hotpad to loosen the cake from the sides.

When you are ready to serve the cake, top each piece with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Merry Christmas to all!

Week 11: Rum Cake 

Ingredients

For the cake

1 box of yellow or butter recipe cake mix. (Don't use Duncan Hines!)

1/2 cup vegetable oil. (I prefer coconut oil, but you can use canola or vegetable oil.)

1/2 cup rum. (You can use whatever rum you have available. Recently I've discovered Montego Bay coconut rum. It gives the cake a wonderful flavor. I've also used regular dark and light rum, and Captain Morgan spiced rum as well.)

1/2 cup water

3 eggs at room temperature

1 cup of diced nuts. (Can be pecans, walnuts, or almonds – your choice!)

For the syrup

1/4 cup rum

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)

Instructions

Cake preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray the inside of a bundt pan generously with cooking spray.

Sprinkle flour on the inside of the bundt pan to help prevent sticking.

Pour nuts evenly over the bottom of the bundt pan.

Mix the cake mix with the vegetable oil, rum, water and eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the cake ingredients into the pan.

Bake the cake for 1 hour.

Syrup preparation

Put the rum, water, sugar and butter into a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil and boil for exactly 2 minutes. (It is very important that you time this correctly.)

Immediately pour the syrup slowly over the baked cake.

Let the cake cool for 30 minutes and then place a flat dish over the top of the pan and flip the cake over onto the plate.

Special note

There is another version of the recipe I often use when making a rum cake. It is identical to my dad's recipe, but you add 1 more egg and a 3 1/2-ounce package of vanilla instant pudding powder. Try both versions of the recipe and see if you prefer one over the other.

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